Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Nadal, Madrid final, 2009


Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in the Madrid final, 2009 on clay

It was the first year the event was held on clay, having been shifted in the calendar to replace the Hamburg Masters. The win was Federer's to date 2nd and last over Nadal on clay, and he would go onto win his sole French Open in the coming weeks

Federer won 63 points, Nadal 58

(Note: I've made confident guesses about serve type for a small number of points)

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (42/67) 63%
- 1st serve points won (29/42) 69%
- 2nd serve points won (17/25) 68%
- Aces 6 (1 second serve)
- Double Faults 3
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (19/67) 28%

- 1st serve percentage (43/54) 80%
- 1st serve points won (32/43) 74%
- 2nd serve points won (5/11) 45%
- Aces 1, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 1
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (14/54) 26%

Serve Pattern
Federer served...
- to FH 34%
- to BH 63%
- to Body 3%

Nadal served...
- to FH 11%
- to BH 83%
- to Body 6%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 37 (8 FH, 29 BH), including 4 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 12 Errors, comprising...
- 4 Unforced (1 FH, 3 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 8 Forced (2 FH, 6 BH)
- Return Rate (37/53) 70%

Nadal made...
- 45 (19 FH, 26 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 13 Errors, comprising...
- 5 Unforced (1 FH, 4 BH), including 1 runaround FH
- 8 Forced (4 FH, 4 BH)
- Return Rate (45/64) 70%

Break Points
Federer 2/2
Nadal 0/4 (3 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding aces)
Federer 18 (10 FH, 3 BH, 2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 OH)
Nadal 10 (7 FH, 3 BH)

Federer's FHs - 3 cc, 2 inside-out, 2 inside-in, 1 longline and 1 drop shot
- BHs - 1 cc pass and 2 drop shots

- 5 from serve-volley points -
- 4 first 'volleys' (1 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 1 OH, 1 FH at net)
- 1 second volley (1 FHV)

Nadal's FHs - 1 cc pass, 2 dtl (1 pass), 3 inside-out and 1 longline/inside-out
- BHs - 1 cc, 1 dtl pass and 1 inside-out pass

Errors (excluding returns and serves)
Federer 31
- 23 Unforced (13 FH, 9 BH, 1 BHV)
- 8 Forced (5 FH, 1 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.4

Nadal 25
- 13 Unforced (6 FH, 7 BH)
- 12 Forced (3 FH, 9 BH)
Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 45.3

(Note 1: all half-volleys refer to such shots played at net. Half -volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke counts)

(Note 2: The 'Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is a measure of how aggressive of intent the average UE made was. 60 is maximum, 20 is minimum. This match has been scored using a four point scale - 2 defensive, 4 neutral, 5 attacking, 6 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Federer was...
- 12/20 (60%) at net, including...
- 7/9 (78%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 4/6 (67%) off 1st serve and...
- 3/3 off 2nd serve
- 0/1 return-approaching

Nadal was 1/2 (50%) at net

Match Report
A hard hitting, fast paced match which comes down to 1 good return or/and 1 bad service game to decide sets. Not a typical clay court match at all. Conditions appear significant fast for clay (though the bounce is high) and in Madrid, high altitudes tend to allow the ball to fly through the air faster than normal. Its difficult to gauge the court speed because of the way Federer plays

So how does Federer play?

Federer's Play
Like a grass court - let alone hard court - encounter. Mixes up his serves - flat and kickers, slower ones and faster ones, aiming for lines or close to the body - and serves well for it with 63% first serves in. Off the third ball, he usually goes for a winner (to an extent that would be considered high even on grass) and serve-volleys at regular intervals (9/58 times - 3 of them second serves, excluding aces and double faults) or otherwise come to net (10 times in rallies). He makes or misses the winner - and that's the point... not interested in point construction or neutral rallying at all on serve

On return, he gets the usual 83% serves directed to his BH (that's actually low... its usually up around 90%) and comes over almost all his BH returns. Runsaround second serves to hit attacking FHs as often as not and chip-charges once to be aggressive. And otherwise, plays fairly normally - rallying neutrally and seeing what comes up. Not slow to attack if he sees an opening but not madly in a rush to do so either

Usually, the problem with such an approach for him against Nadal on this surface is that exaggerated aggression tends to lead to more UEs from Federer than they do winners/errors forced against Nadal - a product of the difficulty of consistently making attacking shots, of needing to go for more on those shots due to Nadal's defensive capabilities and Nadal's exceptional defence. That, and Fed can't count on a big chunk of cheap points on serve because Nadal's return is consistent

Here, things play out a bit differently -

- Fed does get a sizable number of cheap points - 28% unreturned serves is very high for him in this match-up on clay. This is due to both his serving well and Nadal being a bit off on return. Note the 5 return UEs from Nadal. Its not uncommon for him to have 1 or 2 in matches twice the length

- Fed makes most of his attacking plays. 18 winners to 23 UEs is very good on clay, where UEs are usually the decisive factor - and throwing in Nadal's 12 FEs (many of them very strongly forced), Fed is well into the positives attacking. Nadal, though is a bit down from his defensive standard. both breaks in the match are as much a product of his UEs as Fed's attacks

Nadal's Play
Standard stuff from Nadal. 80% first serves in, not serving too hard and just using the first shot to get the ball rolling for the most part

Consistent stuff from the baseline, putting balls back in play like clockwork in neutral situations (he has 13 UEs to Fed's 23) to outlast Fed. But neutral situations are less common than usual because Fed's attacking so frequently - and Nadal finds himself defending or passing more often than usual

He defends stoutly, but less well than usual, his movements seemingly a half a step off and passes very well. Still, primarily credit to Fed for pulling of his attacking plays so well. Note Fed's UEFI's 47.4, which is fairly low given how just how aggressively he played
Last edited:


Hall of Fame
Match Progression
Its a serve dominated match - and Nadal has the better of it in the first set... all the way til he's broken. He'd lost 4 points in 4 service games til game. Federer had lost 10 - including being taken to deuce twice and having to save 2 break points. Patterns of play are as described in above paragraphs - Federer lashing out on his service games and points are short regardless of who wins them, Nadal playing his usual consistent baseline game and Federer usually giving up the UE sooner or later (usually sooner). And more unreturned serves than usual - an indication that conditions were relatively quick

That all changes in game 9, which Nadal opens with a routine FH miss and a double fault to go down 0-30. Federer finishes in great style though. He slices a second serve return (unusual for him in the match) and plays a series of FH inside-ins to the Nadal BH, before hitting a winner with the shot. And on break point, the two get into a BH-BH exchange and its Nadal who blinks when he misses an attempted crosscourt change up

Fed holds to love to seal the set, despite missing 3 first serves. On one point, he serve-volleys of a second serve, is met by a thundering FH return from out wide but is able to pick-up the FH1/2V for a winner

In second set, Nadal opens with 2 love holds, including 4 unreturned serves and Fed is also comfortable on serves. The break comes in game 5 - a very good one from Fed. He swats a high risk FH inside-out winner off a slightly lazy Nadal BH and couple of points later, reels of back-to-back winners - an excellent FH inside-in and an even better BH drop shot. On break point, Fed again slices a second serve back - slow but deep and Nadal makes a hash of it to give up the break

4 holds later, Fed steps up to serve for the match and starts with another exquisite BH drop shot winner (when Nadal, returning to stay in the match, gives up on trying to run it down, its probably perfect). But 2 3rd ball FH errors and a brilliant Nadal BH inside-out pass gives Rafa 2 break points. Nadal outplays Federer on both points, but misses not easy BH winner attempts on both. Fed serves a 2nd serve ace down the middle with Nadal looking for the ball the other way. After missing a volley serve-volleying on his first match point, Fed wraps up by flagrantly forcing an error and this time, bangs down an ace

Other Points of Interest
Some interesting things that speak to how long term percentages work

Essentially, Fed plays just short of wildly aggressive. Most common outcome of his taking such an approach is his missing more attacking shots than is worth it... and it all looks rather desperate and poor. I think it was desperate, but it comes off. Credit to him for execution, but this is probably not a sustainable formula for success - 1 in 10 matches things might all fall in place and a win the result

I was struck by 2 passive Fed returns on critical points, both of which he went on to win. Bear in mind that he was driving almost all BH returns in the match (or running around to hit big FHs).

At 30-30 in the break game of first set, he slices the BH return... and goes on to dominate the point with FH inside-ins before hitting a winner with one. Break point of the second sets break game, he again slices the return and this time, Nadal misses a fairly standard FH 3rd ball

In matches between the two, its fairly common for Federer to retreat into his shell at clutch times such as break point, return tamely (even making errors) and gets bossed about from the baseline. In this match, he went the passive route again (made more noteworthy because his play for the match was more aggressive than usual) on critical points... but it came up trumps for him.

Break point in the first set is also a neutrally played point where Nadal blinks. the type of that majority of times ends with Fed making the error

Nadal also has uncharacteristic lapses. He has two break points in the last game of the match to get the match back on serve. First one he has the better of baseline rally and chooses to go for BH dtl winner and misses. Ball was there for the shot, but its the type of situation he usually would put back in play more safely. Next point, Fed hits a risky runaround FH inside-in, effectively leaving the court open and not having hit it hard enough to flagrantly force an error. Nadal can put the ball in play down the middle of the court comfortably even though he's a bit rushed, but chooses to strongly cc for the winner - and misses

Note Federer 2/2 on break points and Nadal 0/4 in 3 games. The reverse of the norm

Basically, play isn't all that different from many of their other matches, but its that 1 outlier match where things fall Fed's way and don't fall Nadal's. Not dissimilar to Robin Soderling's famous win over Nadal at the French Open a couple of weeks later

Summing up, a fast paced match with Federer attacking relentlessly on serve and playing a watch and wait game on return, with an eye for attacking chances. Nadal plays his customary solid game. Some great stuff from Fed offensively - especially the FH inside-ins - but the result is still up in the air, with chance settling it. The way this match plays out highlights how mental factors and clutching/choking shaped the rivalry because all the usual things that happen, don't - and it sticks out for that

stats for the 2010 final -

stats for Hamburg 2007 final, Federer's only other win on clay -